NEW BEDFORD – The New Bedford Port Authority has reached an agreement with all offshore wind developers operating in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island market to serve as the designated Fisheries Representative of the commercial fishing industry to each of the development companies.

 Under federal guidelines issued by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)  offshore wind developers must establish a Fisheries Representative to be the fishing community’s primary point of contact for communicating project-related concerns to the developer.

 In this role, the Port Authority will act as a central clearinghouse of information, convene stakeholders, facilitate dialogue between fishermen and respective developers, and advocate for ways to mitigate impacts of wind projects on commercial fishermen.  The Port Authority will also work closely with state and federal agencies to adopt policies and regulations needed to ensure the viability of commercial fishing operations.

 Responsible for managing the nation’s largest commercial fishing port, the Port Authority has a long history of operating as a fishing advocate and policy facilitator.  Most recently, the Port Authority convened a working group of East Coast fishing interests stretching from North Carolina to Maine.  The working group has played the leading role in providing industry comment on current and future development plans, turbine layout, and transit corridors.  That work, and Port Authority’s history as an advocate and broker in regulatory matters involving the fishing industry made the agency’s new designation as Fisheries Representative a logical step.

 The nascent offshore wind industry is rapidly developing projects along the Outer Continental Shelf of the eastern seaboard of the United States.  Massachusetts and Rhode Island waters have attracted the most interest as the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard account for roughly 25% offshore wind energy reserves nationally.  Developers pursuing projects in MA/RI waters include Vineyard Wind and Orsted (the world’s largest offshore wind developer).  Rhode-Island based Deepwater Wind was recently acquired by Orsted.

 “As the epicenter of commercial fishing in the Northwest Atlantic, New Bedford is the most logical place for the offshore wind industry to interface with fishermen,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who also serves as Chair of the NBPA.  “The New Bedford Port Authority is a key organization to successfully facilitate the development of the offshore wind industry within a vibrant commercial fishing community.”

 “The NBPA has been contracted by the developers to represent the interests of commercial fishermen, and to be a conduit of information between the developers and the commercial fishing industry as offshore wind farms are developed on the Outer Continental Shelf.  Given the strong relationship the Port Authority maintains with all aspects of the diverse commercial fishing industry, it is logical for the organization to work with both the offshore wind industry and the various commercial fisheries potentially impacted by the design, construction and operation of the wind farms,” said Port Authority Director Ed Anthes-Washburn.

 Washburn added, “We’re very excited to have all three developers on board for this timely announcement.  Adequate and sustained engagement with the fishing industry will translate into more conciliatory communications and interactions with fishing communities up and down the eastern seaboard as the offshore wind industry begins in the United States.”

“We are committed to working with the commercial fishing industry through every step of this process,” said Thomas Brostrom, President of Orsted North America.

 Brostrom added, “The New Bedford Port Authority as one of four Fishery Representatives to Bay State Wind, allows us to effectively communicate with commercial fishermen in New Bedford, helping us understand their needs and helping them understand ours without rushing stakeholder engagement, ensuring a robust process as we build up the offshore wind industry in the U.S.”

“We’re well on our way to making New Bedford a national hub of offshore wind, and the New Bedford Port Authority has been a reliable advocate for fishermen as we navigate this new industry together,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer of New Bedford-based Vineyard Wind, which on in October entered into a lease for use of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, where the company will stage construction of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.

 Stephens continued, “Fishing remains the anchor industry for New Bedford and the region, and as we work together to ensure that both industries thrive, the Port Authority is a natural fit to represent fishing interests to all developers.”

Information from the City of New Bedford